Finding a destination with the amenities, activities and space to accommodate a crowd isn’t easy. Extended family reunions, girls getaways or bachelor parties can require extensive planning that takes into consideration what your crowd wants to do. Whether it’s sightseeing, rock climbing, fishing or just sipping a tropical drink on a sandy beach, here are some ideas to get the search underway.
Tropical flair. Just three miles from the heart of Key West’s historic Old Town, Havana Cabana Resort at Key West is noted for having one of the biggest pools in town and a popular bar that boasts 25 varieties of mojitos. Pair one with a Cuban sandwich and pastries from the hotel’s Floridita Food Truck. The 106-guestroom hotel features a tropical, Cuban flair. But don’t plan to spend too much time inside. Take advantage of the hotel’s bicycles and vintage Vespas for sightseeing, or book a six-seat private jet for a day trip to the real Havana. Groups can book the entire property for a minimum two-night stay that can be tailored with meal plans, entertainment, bar packages and welcome receptions ranging from $199 to $499 per person. (Havana Cabana Resort at Key West, 3420 N. Roosevelt Blvd. $169-$1,005. 305-294-5541, www.havanacabanakeywesthotel.com)
Birds of a feather. The Ancient Art of Falconry program at Historic Banning Mills offers a hand’s-on educational experience ideally suited for groups. Participants in this four-hour program learn about the history of falconry and what it takes to feed, house and train the birds. Then these exquisite creatures are put on the arms of visitors as they’re given a chance to handle the birds. Each session is limited to 10 people aged 10 and older. Those who prefer to watch from a distance can drop by the outdoor nature theater and watch the Birds of Prey show, featuring hawks, buzzards, falcons, vultures and eagles. Other outdoor activities include hiking by Civil War ruins and across a swinging bridge, and one of the longest zipline courses in the country at 39,127 feet in length. (Historic Banning Mills, 205 Horseshoe Dam Road, Whitesburg. $300 and up, Ancient Art of Falconry. $5, Birds of Prey. 770-834-9149, www.historicbanningmills.com)
Barrier island exclusivity. Visitors to the Lodge on Little St. Simons Island leave their cars on the mainland and arrive by boat to this unspoiled barrier island. Located amid 11,000 lush acres and ringed by seven miles of pristine beaches, the Lodge looks rustic from the outside, but inside the accommodations are upscale, and three gourmet meals are served family style every day. Only 32 guests are permitted on the island at one time, and groups can reserve the entire property for an exclusive get-together for $6,960-$10,960 with a two-night minimum. Make time to ride horses on the beach, do laps in the pool, comb the water’s edge for shells, paddle board along calm inlets, go fishing and take a wildlife excursion with the resident naturalist. Don’t miss the beachside Lowcountry boil. (The Lodge on Little St. Simons Island. Park and boat launch at 1000 Hampton River Club Marina Drive, St. Simons. $400 and up, all-inclusive. 912-638-7472, www.littlestsimonsisland.com)
Vintage camping in style. The Shasta Camp at Sulfur Ridge is home to three Shasta Airflyte campers that sleep two adults each in cute and cozy quarters. Built in 2015, these retro replicas are outfitted with heating, air conditioning, a full-sized bed, stove, refrigerator, toilet and shower, and come fully stocked with linens, towels, soap, pots, pans and dishes. Outside each is a dining table and chairs, as well as propane grills and stacks of cut wood for the community fire pit. Groups can book all three; reservations restricted to adults only. (Sulfur Ridge Shasta Camp, 6280 Sulfur Ridge Road, Bloomington, Tennessee. $259 per night. 931-239-0707, www.staysulfurridge.com)
Wine weekend. Just 65 miles north of Atlanta, Dahlonega Resort and Vineyard in the North Georgia mountains dates back to the 1980s, but new owners revamped and upgraded the property in 2018. Last year, vines were planted and a wine tasting garden was added, providing a bucolic backdrop for events from weddings to a girls weekend with wine. Packages can be custom designed for family retreats, yoga and wellness weekends and pampering parties at the spa, where the menu includes meditation sessions, massages and a full range of body treatments. The intimate resort has 23 guestrooms, while its nearby sister property, Kaya Vineyard and Winery, has four cabins that sleep eight. (Dahlonega Resort and Vineyard, 400 Blueberry Hill, Dahlonega 30533. $159-219 per night. 706-865-7678, www.dahlonegasresort.com)
Nature lover’s paradise. Located in Sumter National Forest in the northwestern corner of South Carolina, Devils Fork State Park boasts 20 two- and three-bedroom lakeside villas, outfitted with kitchens, grills and decks, ideal for large gatherings. For those groups that prefer to rough it, there are 25 rustic campsites for tents only and 59 sites for RVs up to 40 feet, with electricity and water. Work up an appetite by hiking the nature trail to a waterfall or swimming and boating on the 7,565-acre Lake Jocassee. For a truly unique experience, don your scuba gear and explore the remnants of a town that still exists under the water’s surface. The park features picnic shelters, a meeting room and, for those who want a more exclusive getaway, an island with campsites accessible only by boat. (Devils Fork State Park, 161 Holcombe Circle, Salem, South Carolina. $8, park admission. $125-$355, villas. 864-944-2639, www.southcarolinaparks.com/devils-fork)
Wine and llamas. Tucked into the Yadkin Valley about 20 minutes from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Divine Llama Vineyards combines the delightful pleasures of sipping wine and communing with llamas. The state’s first designated American Viticultural Area hosts a tasting room set in a rustic lodge where visitors can sample vintages. Then they can join a two-mile llama trek or sign up for a 60-minute, llama-led yoga session set against the backdrop of 91 bucolic acres dotted with pastures and vines. Bring a picnic meal to pair with wine after your workout. (Divine Llama Vineyards, 4126 Divine Llama Lane, East Bend, North Carolina. $50, llama treks. $10, yoga class. 336-699-2525, www.divinellamavineyards.com)
Country music trail. Inspired by the documentary series by award-winning filmmaker Ken Burns, the Ken Burns Country Music Pathway is a route that takes visitors to the towns that put the country music put on the map. Don’t-miss stops include the Birthplace of Country Music Museum on the state line in Bristol, Virginia; the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville; singer Loretta Lynn’s ranch in Hurricane Mills, 75 miles west of Nashville; and Sun Studio in Memphis, where many notable recordings were made. Pick up a pathway “passport” at one of the state’s welcome centers and keep track of your stops at 22 destinations. Passport stamps are redeemable for prizes. (Ken Burns Passports, 312 Rosa L. Parks Ave., Nashville. Passports are free; admissions at individual sites vary, and some are discounted with passports. 615-741-2159, www.tnvacation.com)
Buccaneer beach house. The warmth and charm of St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands beckon visitors to the 340-acre Buccaneer Beach and Golf Resort. The gem of the property is the private beach house, a six-bedroom retreat with a main house and two cottages, all offering unmatched ocean views, a private beach and pool. House guests can hop a shuttle to the main hotel with its fitness center and dining room, but a mini-van is also included for the length of the stay. Group members also receive preferred golf tee times and access to snorkel gear, kayaks, paddle boards and beach toys. Customized group packages can be designed to include a welcome cocktail party and unlimited golf with a cart. (The Buccaneer Beach and Golf Resort, 5007 Estate Christiansted, St. Croix. Hotel rates $330-$2,479 per night. Beach house $12,500-$21,500 a week. 800-255-3881, www.thebuccaneer.com)
Big screen Simpsons. As the longest running TV sitcom, “The Simpsons” has found a following across all ages. So grab your gang and head to Myrtle Beach where a replica of Springfield’s Aztec Theater presents Homer, Marge and their famous kids in a family-friendly 4D adventure. Take a selfie outside with the life-sized cut-outs, then head to the Kwik-E-Mart next door for a Squishee, Buzz Cola or a Lard Lad donut. Souvenir items featuring the show’s characters make up the rest of the merchandise. The Simpsons attraction is the newest addition to Broadway at the Beach, the town’s 350-acre entertainment district with shops, restaurants, theaters, water park, aquarium, wax museum and more. (Simpsons in 4D, 1199 Celebrity Circle, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. $14.99. 843-737-6543, www.si4d.com)
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